There is no one form of Britishness

editorial image
Have your say

Matthew Hobson shows a commendable willingness to reconsider some of his more extreme positions, (Letters, September 25). I suggest he continues in that spirit, since his views on immigration would clearly benefit.

For instance, he asserts that multiculturalism has resulted in the lack of a shared national identity, and supports that assertion by referring to those British citizens who are fighting for Isis in Syria and Iraq.

I don’t know where he’s been, but our national life is rich in perspectives that draw people together regardless of race, religion or cultural antecedents. They can be found across the board, from sport and the arts to science and politics. The young in particular find nothing difficult about moving in and out of different cultural identities and traditions. There’s no one form of Britishness, (there never has been, as the Welsh, Scots and Irish will attest), but if Isis were to march into Sheffield almost all of the friends and neighbours Matthew Hobson thinks are not quite British would be standing shoulder to shoulder with him, (and his dad).

The truth is that the proportion of British citizens who are so alienated from their own society that they’d rather fight for an army of cruel and murderous fanatics is infinitessimally small. To introduce them into arguments about how people from different cultural backgrounds can best live together verges on the disingenuous.

Matthew Hobson should try harder to distinguish the various categories of immigration. Most recent immigrants are economic migrants from EU countries. They are here legally at the behest of the political and economic elites who gain most from membership of that organisation. Those who object should use their vote in the forthcoming referendum.

Economic migrants from other countries are already required to jump through hoops, so much so that Britain is suffering a skills shortage in areas like the NHS and education. Would Mr Hobson rather die than see another foreign doctor or nurse?

By far the smallest group of immigrants are asylum-seekers. These are people fleeing persecution and death. They take little money from the state, (if refused they become destitute), and nobody’s job, (they’re not allowed to work). Once granted refugee status they’re likely to be hard working and loyal to the country that saved them. Despite this, asylum seekers are the group most likely to be used by politicians and others for scare-mongering. What does that say about the level of debate?

Kevin Hanson